Tuesday, 25 October 2011

52) Fish or Flight

    Chalchiuitl stared into the river. The sun stabbed back into her eyes making them water. Huitzilopochtli the angry sun god would not make her waver in her task. With her father and brother off to battle the Spanish at Tenochtitlan she was now the head of the house. Her mother and grandmother could no longer do anything but weave. She could finally hunt. Though her fingers were still calloused like a woman, mated to the loom, she knew her aim would be true.
    There it was, a slight jade flicker below the sparkling river. Chalchiuitl tensed, aimed, and let her bronze tipped spear fly. It made a tiny splash and slid into the river. She waded forward and pulled back her spear with the twine attached to it. As she pulled back the empty spear the chill in her legs was just a little more than she could stand. She waded out of the river and back to the sunny rocks for a small snack of corn fritters and dried fish.
    Jim Cougan woke in his airplane seat, groggy and unsure of the time, jet lagged from flying back and forth from Mexico City to Rome to Montreal to California, to every Anthropology conference that would pay his modest fee. For several years he had had a wide portfolio of books and lectures ready to go on gender roles in prehistoric Mesoamerica, and that seemed to be the hot ticket this year. And he knew well enough to ride a good wave when it presented its self.
    The vision of an Aztec woman fishing quickly slid out of his mind for several reasons. He’d never heard of a woman fishing, their work was in preparing food and weaving cloth. As thirst clawed at the back of his throat, was he coming down with something, the vision disappeared entirely.
    Jim grabbed his toilet bag and pushed himself out of his isle seat. As he walked in the semi dark of the business class cabin, past other sleeping passengers, he fought his sleeping leg, pins and needles shooting up from his toes to his hip. Left leg, right leg, the pain was electric and cold at the same time. He hoped he didn’t have deep vein thrombosis. He reminded himself to read the inflight magazine about it when he returned to his seat.

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